Mushrooms are often categorized as a vegetable but are really fungi. They have been used for thousands of years as medicine and in food all over the world. You might think of this funky fungus growing wildly in the yard or passing it by on hikes, but many non-toxic varieties add flavor and nutrients to your meals. So, can you still enjoy mushrooms during pregnancy? We cover everything you need to know about mushrooms during pregnancy below.
Mushrooms during pregnancy: what is safe?
Can you eat mushrooms while pregnant?The big question is, are these fungi safe for your growing body and baby? Well, mostly. Most mushrooms you find in grocery stores are safe to eat during pregnancy. And provide plenty of benefits, too. Which mushrooms are safe to eat during pregnancy?
- Baby bella
Which mushrooms are unsafe during pregnancy?Not all mushrooms are created equal. The “magic” kind perhaps, are of course not safe or suggested to use in pregnancy. They can cause hallucinations, muscle weakness, drowsiness, nausea, and vomiting. Mushrooms you find in the “wild” should also be avoided. Collecting wild mushrooms poses the danger of potentially toxic mushrooms because you may not be able to properly identify them. The side effects of eating toxic mushrooms are nausea, vomiting, and general intestinal discomfort. There is one documented report of a pregnant woman eating an Amanita mushroom and suffering from nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and a 5-day hospital stay, however, both baby and mom were fine (1). Interestingly, there are some mushroom species yet to be discovered. So for now, stick to the grocery stores when it comes to purchasing and eating mushrooms during pregnancy!
Mushroom nutrition information1 cup of white raw mushrooms, sliced (2)
- Calories: 15
- Carbohydrates: 2.3 g
- Protein: 2.2 g
- Fat: 0.2 g
- Sugar: 1.4 g
- Fiber: 0.7 g
- Potassium: 220 mg
- Selenium: 6.5 mcg
Are there benefits to eating mushrooms during pregnancy?
Gut microbiotaMushrooms contain prebiotics which is a specific type of fiber that feeds the healthy bacteria in our gut. Research is building on how mushrooms can positively affect the balance of bacteria in our gut (4). An imbalance of bacteria in the gut during pregnancy affects both mom and baby. Research shows this balance affects maternal weight and weight gain during pregnancy. And can permanently affect the offspring’s metabolism (5).
Vitamin DIf grown in proper sunlight or UV-C radiation, mushrooms can be a source of vitamin D2, a nutrient that is limited when it comes to food sources, but vitally important for pregnancy (6). Although it is estimated that 3 button mushrooms from your average grocery store only contains 40 IU vitamin D2 (7). When these same mushrooms are exposed to 15-120 minutes of mid-day sunlight, they will produce up to 10 times the amount of vitamin D. For reference, one egg contains around 50 IU of vitamin D (8). Enhancing your diet with mushrooms during pregnancy adds a crucial nutrient that up to 50% of pregnant women are deficient in (9).
Anti-inflammatoryWhile inflammation is a necessary response in our bodies, repeated inflammation without proper care results in chronic inflammation which is not good for our health (10). Inflammation in pregnancy has been linked to gestational diabetes and preeclampsia (11, 12). Mushrooms contain many components that contribute to reducing inflammation. Antioxidants such as carotenoids, tocopherols, and vitamin c, in addition to certain amino acids and fatty acids are all responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties in mushrooms (10).
Blood sugar controlThere is some documentation that suggests mushrooms help control or reduce type 2 diabetes (13). While these studies aren’t specific to gestational diabetes, they showed a reduction in blood sugar levels and hemoglobin A1C, both biomarkers of diabetes in and outside of pregnancy (13). It is important to note, many of these studies were completed in mice. But nonetheless, it appears it definitely can’t hurt to include various types of mushrooms in your diet. Overall, mushrooms provide many benefits to our diet. A healthy gut microbiota, adequate vitamin D intake, low inflammation, and blood sugar control are all important aspects of nutrition during pregnancy.
How to add mushrooms to your dietVegetarians are often quick to use mushrooms since they are a great ingredient to help create the taste and texture of meat products. But others can simply use them as a topping or side dish.
- Portobello “steaks”
- Sauté with onions to top a protein of your choice
- Mushroom soup
- Roast alongside assorted veggies
- Add to pasta or pizza
- Use in an egg scramble or omelet